tv [untitled] April 13, 2012 12:30pm-1:00pm EDT
benefits. we'll certainly look at the cost and benefits before doing anything. that would be part of the analysis. i think an important part of the analysis. >> okay. commissioner mcdowell, do you have anything else to add? >> just to underscore for broadcasters it is they who have come to us. it is they who came to us for the 2007 portion when we wanted certain parts of the public inspection file to be put online. but they're the ones coming to the commission saying this might be unduly burdensome with the requirements that it be posted realtime. it means hiring one or more people to staff that and post these things in realtime. for a small broadcasters especially in smaller markets or larger markets that's very expensive. keep in mind that there is legislation that was voted out of the house that would require the fcc to conduct appropriate cost benefit analysis when adopting new rules that are real and not cursory. that might be something to think about in this context as well.
>> yeah. and we'll pursue that at some other point, because sometimes i wonder how the cost benefit analyses are actually performed, if you will. but i've taken way, way more than my five minutes. and so, joe. i know. it's just i wanted to finish this. so, thanks. >> no, thank you, and i understand, because i had no intention to discuss this subject, but it has become an interesting subject and i think it's important as we look at it to remember a couple of things. first of all, broadcasters complaining. i don't know in the history of this country there's ever been a businessperson who gladly was told to do something and said great, i want to do that. most people will tell you it costs money to do that and they can't do it until they're told to do it in another way. secondly, i don't know that what
kellogg's has to say about granola or vice versa has any bearing on who the next president of the united states will be, who will be elected to congress, and i think we have to understand that at the bottom of this issue is the fact that some folks in the political arena and, therefore, people associated with them, have been for the last few years very happy -- and i must say very happy on all sides with the fact that they don't have to disclose as much as some people would like them to disclose, as to who's paying for these ads and who's behind it. it's okay to talk about the fcc mandating. it's okay to talk about unfunded mandate. it's good to talk about everything else. but i think we can't kid ourselves in understanding there is a bottom line issue here. that is the understanding by some folks that this information should not be available. now to me -- >> will you yield? >> sure.
>> go ahead and finish that sentence, but will you yield? >> but to me, what the chairman has said and mr. mcdowell, the commissioner has not spoken against, is that everybody is putting information online. why not this information also? it costs congress money more than it used to spend to go online and put this information forward of what we do. it's costing them right now to broadcast this online, this hearing. but that's important. i'm sure it cost the supreme court to put all their findings online. it will cost the census bureau, that great story i read today about the 1940 census coming out and it will be online soon and after that you'll be able to trace it by name as to what happened after the great depression and the migration of african-americans from the south to the north and in my case from puerto rico and other places to new york. this is information that is being put out that is necessary
and it costs money. so i think on one hand we should understand that there is a need to take all information and put it online. that's just the world we live in now, otherwise i wouldn't have had to have spent all this money on an ipad that i paid for myself. just so i can watch baseball, too. the other thing, too, is, that there is this desire not to tell. somehow it bothers people -- and i'm not speaking about you. but it bothers a lot of people in this country that you should know that i'm a great congressman or that i'm not a great congressman. i think we should know. >> i would ask you to yield one second to say that all of that information is available online through the federal election commission. >> right. but these are commercials put on a tv station. these are commercials also put eventually on a radio station. there is a role as mandated by congress and a role just mandated by the circumstances.
this is using our airwaves. and our airwaves belong to the public. and who's paying to say that that guy should not be elected and that he once was a member of a group that he shouldn't have been a member of, whatever. we should know who's paying for that. so i don't have a problem with that kind of disclosure. we disclose a lot personally. we need to do more of that. but that's just my two cents. now, republican-type question, since somebody might say that i asked a democrat-type question or made a comment. as you well know, this administration has instructed each federal agency, even the independent ones such as the fcc, to examine and eliminate itch appropriate unnecessary regulations. how is this effort going at the fcc? commissioner mcdowell, do you see an uptick in the effort given your history at the fcc?
>> we've taken our obligation to review unnecessary rules for elimination very seriously. it was something i talked about on my very first day as chairman as soon as the president issued an executive order asking the independent agencies to join the other agencies in doing reviews of rules. we said, one, we're already doing it and we'll continue to do it. we've eliminated over 200 unnecessary regulations. we've eliminated five data collection obligations. we've identified another dozen data collection obligations for elimination. and we'll continue to do that. we run a regular process to identify outdated rules for elimination. >> can you give me before you answer just for example, for the record, one that was eliminated? one that we would be familiar with, perhaps. >> so they extend both from
eliminating rules like ones that were still on the books that apply to telegraph. second, we eliminated the fairness doctrine requirements from our books. we've also eliminated requirements that restrict spectrum use, promoting flexible use of spectrum that commissioner mcdowell talked about. so the regulations we eliminated they extend from the, why is that still on the books, to there are barriers and burdens to innovation investment that shouldn't be there and we should eliminate them. >> thank you. and i thank the chairman, by the way. we have a very good working relationship. he doesn't take it personally when i dissent. it's worth a lot in this town. i think. i would love to see a comprehensive list of those 200. i don't have one. so that would be helpful. i think. in some cases we would have to
vote on them. in other cases we don't have to vote on them. so at the same -- i'll take him at his word that some 200 requirements have been removed from the books. at the same time, a few area where is there were rules added to the books. maybe 200. it's terrific. let's continue that trend. but at the same time let's make sure we're not taking one step forward, two steps back with more regulation. >> but you don't know of any that have been withdrawn? you say there are 200, but you haven't seen that list? >> i don't have the list. i may have voted on a fraction of those, but i haven't seen a comprehensive list of those 200 that might be helpful to disclose that. >> well, i'm sure this friendly hearing and the example that we set here will allow you guys to share that information so that we know. chairman genachowski, please tell us about your connect to compete initiative and update us on how this effort to increase
internet accessibility to disadvantaged families is working. you know, this is an issue that continues to trouble many of us and it's really a bipartisan thing. we've grown and we've grown in the internet and all these other gadgets we have and everything and yet we still manage to leave some folks behind. and that's not right. that's not right anywhere. we're not the best in the world -- we're the best in the world as a country. we're not the best at including everybody in these new technologies. so what are we doing? >> about a third of americans who could have broadband don't. as you indicate in a world where for example job postings have moved almost completely online and job applications are in almost all cases required to be submitted online not having access to broadband is a very big deal. the percentages that i mentioned are highest in particular communities from rural americans
the elderly, minority communities. there are a number of different reasons for it. there's no silver bullet to moving the needle on adoption. the connect to compete initiative is something that we have great hope for. one of the issues that people face in signing up for broadband is cost. another issue is digital literacy. some people don't know how to use the computer. they don't know how to upload documents. the cable industry to their credit announced a program to offer low-cost broadband, $9.95 a month, to families who have kids on school lunch programs. and companies -- other companies joined this initiative to help on the digital literacy side. microsoft, for example, is offering more courses to help people understand how to use basic software.
best buy is deploying its geek squad to help people understand the basics of the internet. this is a bipartisan issue. it's a broad national challenge. and i look forward to working with the committee and with my colleagues to find ways to improve the broadband adoption metrics. >> thank you so much. >> mr. alexander. >> thank you, ma'am. >> mr. chairman, we're glad to have you here today. you submitted a budget to the congress about 2% above last year's budget and in washington standards that's good. but if you look at some of the other agencies, the ftc, for instance, 4% less than last year. since those that you regulate pay that bill, is there anything
in your department that could be trimmed back a little bit so we could get down to less than at 2%? >> i'm concerned about whether we can accomplish our mission with the budget. we did a lot of work to develop the budget to save as much money as we can. we received a letter from apple and we heard from other device makers very concerned if we have the resources we need to deal with the proliferation of new devices like that ipad. because each of those devices has to be certified by the fcc as compliant with a missions obligation. i'm concerned about that. i'm concerned about the growing complexity of our work. and some of the increase that you mentioned is directly related to saving money. and so, for example, we've proposed data center consolidation initiatives and cloud computing initiatives that
will cost, i think, the number is about $6 million in 2012. but those we project will save about $2.5 million on an annual basis once they're completed. it's exactly the kind of thing that every private sector company is doing looking to make targeted investments to save money and lower the baseline. >> okay. a minute ago you said about a third of the public could have but don't have broadband. tell me what that means. >> well, there are two universal broadband gaps. both presenting very significant issues. but they're somewhat different. so one is the broadband deployment gap. there are millions of americans who live in rural areas where there's no broadband infrastructure at all. in our universal service reform that we worked on together
commissioner mcdowell and i and our colleagues we sought to reform an outdated program to efficiently drive broadband deployment to rural america where there's no infrastructure at all. and then there's the broadband adoption gap. these are areas where the infrastructure is there, but people haven't signed up. so if you haven't signed up, you can't look for a job online. if your kid is required as part of their school work to be online, they can't do it. we hear from families -- there's a teen age girl in florida who wrote us saying that to do her homework, she goes to the library at night and sits outside because the library is closed to get access to their wi-fi because her family doesn't have broadband at home. so that's the broadband adoption issue and the metric is about one-third of americans don't have or haven't adopted broadband. >> one more question. there are few things out there when we're having town hall meetings stir anger anymore than
the reports about the cell phones. does the universal service fund buy cell phones for those below poverty? >> there's a program called lifeline that's existed for many years to help low-income people have access to basic telecommunication service like a telephone. last month or two months ago we adopted some major reforms to that program, the most significant reforms to make sure we tackle any waste and inefficiency abuse in those programs. every dollar in a program like that should go towards its intended purpose. >> i didn't hear an answer. do we buy cell phones for people? >> there's a program that subsidizes communications access and it does subsidize mobile phone use, only one per person is allowed so people can choose under the program between land line access or mobile access. the program is designed to make
sure that low-income people have access to basic communication service. >> do you have any idea how many phones are out there that the taxpayers have paid for? >> i'd hesitate to guess, but we can get that for you. >> okay. thank you. >> mr. womack. >> thank you, madam chairwoman. thank you, mr. chairman, and commissioner, for being here today. i've got a couple of questions. you know, as i was explaining to the chairman before the hearing began today, i've got a little background in broadcasting in small market radio. i have a couple of questions about that. i know a lot of the discussion has been among public inspection files as it concerns tv broadcasters and what have you. but i've got a constituent in my district that owns five radio stations. he also happens to be my father. and when we talk of -- because it's been a while since i've been in the trade. my relationship to the business now is he interviews me once in
a while, but his argument is the onerous recordkeeping that he has to keep specifically in the area of equal opportunity employment. now you have to understand that his business is in an area where there is a pretty significant population of latinos in the area. and he has to, i think, according to him, if i understand his explanation, that he has to keep these -- he has to go to great extremes to promote and to try to recruit potential applicants into his operation from a certain ethnic minority or other minorities, and he's finding it increasingly difficult to do because of the available pool, but at the same time the fcc has these
requirements for this massive recordkeeping. now, understand, this is a small business. you've already alluded to the fact that so many of the things we're talking about, i think the commissioner said it a minute ago, a lot of these businesses are very small businesses. in his case a very, very small business. this is an extraordinary hardship on the company to try to meet these demands. so what gives? >> the eeo obligations in general are very long-standing at the commission and serve very worthy purposes. >> i don't dispute that at all. >> i understand that. i'm not aware of the specific concerns. i will say that as a general matter anything that we can do to reduce unnecessary burdens, particularly on small businesses, we will be very open to looking at. we do run general proceedings asking for input on how we can reduce unnecessary burdens. i appreciate the question and we will go back and look at any
issues in that area and make sure that any recordkeeping requirements are required necessary and efficiently meet the purposes of the rules. >> commissioner? >> well, i'll take a minute to look at that. obviously the eeo rierts are a matter of law and also a good idea. but if they can be streamlined, i would certainly support it as you might have guessed. so we can get working on that. >> fantastic. thank you. i was kind of captivated by the discussion about the inspection file. and i can certainly appreciate the fact that in a kind of digital age we're in right now it shouldn't be a problem to upload a lot of the stuff that would be in a paper file to anon line presence. i guess my question comes down to what -- do we have mission creep as we call it in the military, between fec, fcc.
how do we decide and discern between the two federal agencies who's responsible for what? because it appears to me that we have the fcc involved in fcc involved in something that is clearly a matter of the sec. help me understand that. >> to is extent the fcc is involved in this area it goes back many, many years a part of the public trustee obligations of broadcasters. congress codified this in 2002. >> sorry to interrupt, but does it proceed the fec, these rules that go back. >> i'm not sure, but i think it might be. the basic obligation of broadcasters to make diskilos with candidates goes back in, many years. in this proceeding the question isn't should we change those, add to those, subtract to nose,
but rather should they move from a physical public file to online? you mentioned small businesses and the commissioner mentioned that as well. one of the suggestions in the record was to look at look at ways to exempt small businesses from this move or give them more time to make the transition. in general even small broadcasters are engaging with the sec online. they are broadcasting -- but the extent there are burden issues those are issues raised on the record. >> commissioner? >> i want to clarify that broadcasters that came to us and wanted us to move a lot of those file requirements to be online. but they wanted the political file component carved out because of the proposed costs.
it is the cost of broadcasters uploading the old files and maintains in realtime. i don't think anyone's against disclosure or transparency. you raise an excellent point. it's a good point for congress to consider which is the fcc the best equipped agency to be in the federal election law business or is that the rule of the fec. i think we should keep all that in mind. >> the chairman mentioned earlier today in discussion about some of the regulatory burdens that have been dropped overtime. you mentioned specifically fairness, doctor. what are the requirements. what is a requirement today? and whether or not there is any initiative underway or thought process underway to bring back shall we say this fairness doctrine. >> just the opposite.
i feel very strongly about the first amendment free speech, the fairness doctrine in my view was a bad first amendment idea from the start. i was pleased that work with my colleagues to eliminate the last ves damages on the books. >> so about a year ago i was giving a speech we were going through i had asked my legal team to go through the fec's rules to find instances of rules that could be getting rid of. everyone thought the fairness doctrine died in 1987 and parts of the heart and soul of it remained on the books. the fec decided not to enforce it back in 1987. the chairman took that cue and got rid of it from our books. the bigger issue can't always be when you say fairness doctrine all the phones and radio stations light up.
there are other ways the fec can regulate speech through broadcast license renewals. as we go through the term is, what would be the criteria for getting your license renewed et cetera, it is always important to look at those rules as well. >> one final question in this round and we have some questions about broad band to come up later. is the fec the proponent agency, i won't get this term right, the royalty fees paid to the song
writers, artists, it's not under an fec umbrella, is that correct? >> correct. >> whose umbrella is that under? >> i don't know, but it's not us. >> that's a good thing. that will save a couple of minutes of the round of questioning. >>. >> let me start by madam chairman saying the commissioner, the chairman and his staff have been succeedingly open to us and our staff. i want to thank you for that. we spent a lot of time today speak about transfirnsy. when we were preparing for this meeting and the issue of light square kind of came back. i was kind of, precisely since
you've been so open to me, i was shocked at some of the things that i read about light squared. the fact that you had a member of the senate saying he couldn't get the information. the fec told him that information of that sort is only given to members of relative committees, which obviously this one would be included in that. but because of that i started digging in a little bit because i was frankly shocked. one of the things that a cynic would say well, that was something that there were reportedly contributors to the administration and so therefore it smelled bad. since i don't buy that, we did a little bit of our own digging something that frankly shocked us a little bit speaking of transparency. that's the issue of freedom of information act requests. if you look at and i'll tell you the sources the u.s. government
website. you look at just the number of freedom of information act requests and denials. according to that website, the fec is denying more freedom of information act requests under this new fec. than in the past. as a matter of fact a significantly greater percentage of denials compared to other government agencies. for example, 48% of requests were denied while the rest of the government denied only 7.3%. that's a pretty darn huge difference. some of that data on that website indicates that the fec has started denying an unusually large freedom of information
requests because of this thing called not reasonably described. under your watch fec denied about 16.4% of requests based on records that were not quote, reasonably described. not only is that a huge increase from previous fec years, only 3% denial based on that. but much higher than even the cia which i thought was a big deal. the cia denies 0.7% denial rate the same year on that same issue. so why is the fec all of a sudden have more secrets than the cia when you're dealing with foia requests? >> i'm not familiar with those numbers and i haven't heard them before. would be happy to look at them together with you and try to understand the trends. certainly we recognize our obligations under foia and we have a team of professionals who
handle foia requests and understand their obligations to comply and meet the obligations under law. >> again, the reason i was taken back is precisely because of the relationship i had with you, my staff has had and we have freedom of information. it seems that outside of me or us or congress and even with some members of congress it seems that there may be a difference. again, if you look at for example, those are denied for not reasonably described, if you look at again 16.4% for the fec, the cia, 0.7%. the nsa 0.5%. the homeland security, 0.2%, there seems to be a problem. that's a huge increase because just previously that was about 3%. it was still high. and higher than these other agencies. i'm sure there's a reason for it. there seems to be a huge increase of